Toronto Maple Leafs: Has Freddie Andersen Turned His Season Around?

Toronto Maple Leafs - Frederik Andersen (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Frederik Andersen (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs tumultuous season continued this week with a sweeping series of losses on their California road trip.

Despite what was, by and large, a disappointing performance by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the trip to the golden state might have revealed a glimmer of hope for a struggling team.

Gaps in goaltending have been a point of criticism throughout the season, as the Leafs are vastly outperforming their 27th ranked goaltending.  The recent addition of Jack Campbell has simultaneously relieved and exacerbated the pressure on starting goaltender Frederik Andersen.

Campbell has strung together several solid performances since coming to Toronto, and his success between the pipes has allowed the team to provide Andersen with some much-needed rest.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Frederick Andersen

February saw Andersen’s performances take a significant dip. At the lowest point of the slump, Andersen allowed five or more goals in three games over the span of a week.

It’s true that after February, Andersen’s stats have taken a hit, and there is statistically very little difference remaining between the two netminders. But in Los Angeles on Mar. 5, Andersen was quick to remind his critics what he’s capable of when he’s sharp.

In a rare goalless game, Andersen was able to hold on for a shutout, despite facing 30 shots.  It was his second shutout in six starts.

Andersen’s performance was spectacular from puck drop to the final shot, although the team couldn’t match it, and went on to lose in shootout.

This personal victory came on the heels of another solid performance in Vancouver on Feb. 29, where Andersen stopped 25 of 27 shots to lead the team to victory.

In the past, Andersen’s statistics have often taken a hit towards the end of the regular season, and he’s gone into the playoffs on the down-swing in his last couple of appearances. It’s a phenomenon that many link to his grueling workload. However, with the addition of Campbell to alleviate some of that pressure, it’s possible that cycle can be broken.

Going into the Los Angeles game, Andersen was riding a personal win streak of three straight, his last loss being the embarrassing and theatrical loss to Carolina on Feb. 22. And despite a lackluster offensive performance, Andersen did all that was within his power to pursue a fourth win against the Kings. Excluding the technicality that is the Adrian Kempe goal, Andersen’s still riding his winning streak.

If his sudden change of pace is in fact, as it appears, a comeback of sorts, and not another inconsistency in an inconsistent season, it could have serious implications for possible playoff matchups. A full-strength Freddie in a playoff scenario is not something The Toronto Maple Leafs fans are familiar with, and nor are their opponents. The team has been within a game of round two three times in their last four playoff appearances, and having sustainable goaltending could be the difference-maker.

Besides, everyone knows what Andersen, now a bona-fide all-star, is capable of when he’s at his best. Maybe the Leafs have finally put him in a situation where he can be.

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Andersen has had his worst NHL season to date, and has been a major factor in the Toronto Maple Leafs poor performance so far this year. His recent play is encouraging however, and if it turns out to be indicative of his play going forward, he could single  handedly turn this season around.